Wednesday, September 26, 2007
One Two Tea
I took a spontaneous trip back to Flip Flop last weekend and one of the stops I made was to Chaikhana to get my brick of Tibetan Pu-er and some lapsang. They were out of the pu-er, but not the lapsang (but I found some other wet-cave-aged tea).
Tea isn't a summer thing. Iced tea is too bitter (and the lemon and sugar that gets added doesn't make it any more drinkable). Tea is, at best, a gentle compensation to blustery weather. Now that it is officially autumn, tea is in season (and I can start pulling my dark brown and black clothes out of the basement) . Besides, tea is mostly a treat for the nose, and if the sublte aromas aren't carried to the schnoz via steam, then about 75% of the enjoyment is lost.
Favorite Recent Tea Experiences
Interstate 580, Mountain River Pu-er
Tea on the freeway isn't usually something I'd recommend. You could spill it on yourself, swerve into a central barrier and die. Also, drinking it properly out of a tea cup is difficult, if not impossible while the car is careening in and out of lanes and zipping down off-ramps. Be that as it may, El Cab found his calm inner tea ceremony guru cruising (on the passenger's side, of course) on N 580. He miraculously got most of the tea out of the leaky thermos into the Winny-the-Pooh cups I stole from the KB that morning. The wet cave smell of the tea overwhelmed even the burning-oil-stale-commute-fart car smell that usually pervades the Silver Bullet. Magic.
Imperial Red, with the Elevens
Eleven has always been one of the tea tastemakers in my life. Her tales of the Tea Guru and of pu-er sent me to Chaikhana for the first time, and she has always been enthusiastic about trying something new. One of her all-time favorites is Imperial Red, a black tea... (and that's all I know about it). It tastes like chocolate, but not in a lame-artificial-chocolate-flavor way. It tastes more like the Platonic Ideal of chocolate, without the annoying parts. If Chocolate had a fakir cousin who could levitate over the bed of hissing cobras then that would be Imperial Red. It doesn't hurt that the Elevens live in a little red cabin surrounded by old growth oak trees, and their book-lined living room is one of the more enchanted places I know.
Ginger Pu-er at Cafe Laila
I usually don't see pu-er at cafes, but when I spied the jar that had this label the other day, I knew I had to have it. It was the ghost of ginger holding a seance in a wet cave.